Study: Robots can develop prejudice on their own

A new study claims that robots can develop prejudices like racism on their own.

Showing prejudice towards others does not require a high level of cognitive ability and could easily be exhibited by artificially intelligent machines, according to the research conducted by England's Cardiff University and MIT.

They say their research shows that groups of autonomous machines could demonstrate prejudice by simply identifying, copying and learning the behavior from one another.  Computer simulations showed how similarly prejudiced individuals, or virtual agents, can form a group and interact with each other.

Though some computer algorithms have already exhibited prejudice, based on learning data generated by humans, the new work demonstrates the possibility of AI evolving prejudice on its own.

Artificial intelligence experts performed the simulations on robot brains to show how they create  groups and treat "outsiders" differently.

The researchers say that in a game of give and take, each individual makes a decision as to whether they donate to somebody inside of their own group or in a different group, based on an individual’s reputation as well as their own donating strategy, which includes their levels of prejudice towards outsiders.  As the game unfolds and a supercomputer racks up thousands of simulations, each individual begins to learn new strategies by copying others either within their own group or the entire population.

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.